More workers needed to meet demands of strong economy

Mantoba’s strong economy will keep construction activity at a high level over the next few years,  but a new report says a projected problem will be a shortage of workers available to fill the enhanced employment opportunities.

The new report said employment in Manitoba’s construction industry will reach record high levels, with skilled tradespeople in demand for at least the next eight years.  

According to the Construction Sector Council (CSC) report, the recession did not reduce the demand for workers by much, and that steady growth and an aging workforce will limit the available supply from 2010 to 2018.

“Clearly, there will not be enough new entrants to replace retirements and mortality let alone finding workers for new construction projects,” said John Schubert, chair of the Manitoba Construction Sector Council. “So we are very focused on recruitment and will be increasing our efforts to promote the industry to new entrants, and to invest in apprenticeship. 

“We are also looking at new labour sources from other industries and provinces, and from immigration,” he added.

The CSC Construction Looking Forward report was compiled following consultations with industry leaders as well as governments and educational institutions. The report outlined labour supply and demand in the provincial industry, and included a ranking system for some 30 trades.

Manitoba is in the middle of a strong construction cycle. Major mining, hydro electric, transmission and other engineering projects will keep construction employment strong throughout the outlook scenario.

Across the forecast period, employment will rise by 6,200 jobs between 2010 and 2018.  In addition, there are replacement requirements from 5,300 retirements, and the loss of 900 workers due to the natural mortality rate.

“We aren’t seeing the volatility that we’ve seen in previous cycles,” said David Martin, president of the Manitoba Building Trades. “The data are showing regular, but steady growth. 

“With proper workforce planning, that is quite manageable,” he added, “(and) the forecast allows us to get ahead of the curve and be prepared.”

The CSC is a national industry organization funded by the government of Canada’s Sector Council Program, and is committed to maintaining and developing a highly skilled workforce to support the future needs of the construction industry in Canada.